Comments Regarding the Franco-British 1956 MergerFrom: H-NET List for Diplomatic History [mailto:H-DIPLO@H-NET.MSU.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 01:47
Subject: [H-France] Franco-British 1956 'Merger' Proposal
From: John Keiger
This idea of a Franco-British Union in 1956 isn't such a stunning scoop as the BBC and Guardian have made out. The Sunday Times published excerpts from the PRO documents in 1987 and developed the issue far more fully than the BBC did on its programme this evening. Keith Kyle mentioned the 1956 incident in his book on Suez published in 1991 (Leon Noel, Mollet's chef de cabinet, confirming the proposal). Robert and Isabelle Tombs mention the proposal in their recent book 'That Sweet Enemy'. Nor was the idea for a Franco-Briish union that surprising for certain British or French political circles in 1956. The proposal was based on the earlier idea for an 'indissoluble union', that was very far-reaching in its integration of the two states along the lines of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, that had been floated by Churchill only 16 years previously; an idea that de Gaulle (still not having smoked any wacky baccy) welcomed (see Keiger, France and the World since 1870, OUP, 2001, pp. 174-6). Obviously the proposal went no further because of the French defeat. But if one looks at the degree of integration of the 2 economies during the First World War (which was very deep in so many areas), the military integration and the political shared purpose, and the lengths that the French went to in the inter-war years to get some kind of political and military alliance with Britain, the idea has some lineage. And through all of this ran the name of Jean Monnet, who wd have preferred a Franco-British axis at the heart of Europe to the Franco-German one that seemed to be the only alternative after Britain's 'betrayal' to the Americans at Suez.
Professor of International History,
Director, European Studies Research Institute, Humphrey Booth House, University of Salford
From: H-NET List for Diplomatic History [mailto:H-DIPLO@H-NET.MSU.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 22:44
Subject: Franco-British 1956 Merger
From: Kevin Ruane <kjr1 (at) canterbury.ac.uk>
I must concur with John Keiger and poop the BBC's so-called "scoop" about the Mollet proposal of September 1956 for Franco-British union. This has been doing the rounds for a long time. The programme itself was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 last night - 15 Jan - and was actually quite good in an excitable Da Vinci Code/Mollet-Eden code way. Except that the shock-horror revelation was no revelation at all. If anyone's interested, James Ellison provides a good succinct treatment of the issue in his book Threatening Europe, published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2000, ch. 3.
Professor Kevin Ruane
Department of History and American Studies Canterbury Christ Church University